Big Sur -- Memorial Day -- May 2018

It feels appropriate about a year out that I write up the full 120 film ezine for my trip to Big Sur last Memorial day with Kristina.

For those not in the know, Big Sur is a state park/region/area in Central California along the coastline, known for its forest, beaches, and waterfall. We’ll get to that in a second.

Let’s break down the gear, film etc, because that’s probably the largest driver of traffic to this page aside from me spam-blasting it around the facebook groups. (if you’re here from the facebook groups -- Hi! Thanks for taking a read/look.)

Anyway, this is the shots from the trip, that I’ve culled down as “acceptable for public consumption” down from the 200-300 odd 120 photos I had before.

Most of the trip I shot Fuji Pro 160C, then swapped off to Portra 160 for color film. For BNW I shot an unholy mix of Fomapan 100, Fomapan 200, Fuji Acros, *and* Bergger Pancro 400. I don’t think I really even kept my developers straight (please don’t roast me, this was before I got hard into maniacally testing my film and how to shoot it. I’ve come around since.) I developed all the film in either Rodinal or Xtol.

For equipment, I used my Pentax 6x7 MLU, with 105mm 2.4, 55mm (I really really wish I’d had the 45mm in at least one specific place), and 165mm 2.8 -- which honestly is a really, really underrated lens.  You can see my overall thoughts on the camera here.

I also had my Minolta XD-11 with me (click here for my review). I’ve even posted up a blog of my favorite shots taken with it over here on the blog (click here for those shots).

Leaving Los Angeles that weekend, the first stop was Santa Barbara. We (Kristina and I) walked down around the pier, took in the beach bums, along with the tourist-laden spots, around the pier. From there we had a nice walk around the City Hall (It’s really cool in person, would highly recommend). We then took off from Santa Barbara to the Hearst Castle.

The Hearst Castle is, pretty flooring. Both in scope and grandeur. This is where I really wish I’d had that wider lens (the 45mm) to get up close or at the very least all of the castle in from up on the hill/being on the grounds. We took the great rooms tour, which was really interesting, the guide had a lot of really interesting stories about the place. I was lucky enough to get some bad (well not so much bad as just not completely clear) weather for some extra mood. The only film I shot up on the hill was Fuji Acros and Fuji Pro 160c. I definitely used some Foma 200 on the trip down the hill.

I nearly passed out on the way to the hotel up in King City -- I probably did to be honest. Anyway that was about it for day one. Day two we cut around and over the mountains back to PCH. The next day, we actually went over the mountains, and I grabbed a few interesting shots -- that said, I’m not all too pleased with the scanning job I did. I hate my scanner, the epson v600, and to be fair this is also before I’d figured out how to remove the banding by cleaning my calibration area. (don’t ask how long it took me to figure it out -- it’s pretty embarrassing.) I think most of those poorly scanned/dirty shots are Acros 100. Honestly Fuji Acros deserves better than this (especially considering that it’s out of production now), but almost a year out, and not part of my core works, I’m having extreme difficulty justifying going back and re-digitizing (and potentially digitizing more rolls -- I may have just thrown in the towel on scanning and not done all of them). But hey, this is the part of the website where I show stuff off and run my mouth about what I learned (not necessarily stunting on how great the photos are -- but there are definitely a few winners around here).

We spent most of that day driving up and down PCH, had a good two mile hike to the beach -- definitely solidly underrated, I can’t remember the exact name of that sub-state park in the big sur region/area -- the Pfeiffer Beach area was booked up for the day, both in parking spaces, and via the bus. Also, disappointingly, or maybe saving me another cliché'd tourist shot -- so was Pfeiffer falls. Though I do like a good waterfall, so who knows -- also given my film selection, and my choice of a Pentax 6x7 medium format camera at the time (mostly 100 speed film -- ie Fuji Acros, Kodak Portra 160, Foma 200 [which tests reveal is really a 100 speed film] Foma 100, and Bergger Pancro 400 -- which I didn’t think of for pushing a year ago), I’d be stuck with half speed waterfalls. I hate long exposure water, like rivers, waves, etc. I think it looks dumb and it’s a dead meme of an effect, but at the same time you need a shutter at like 1/1000th to get an accurately granular depiction of moving water.

The final day, we drove up and down PCH some more, I finally burnt through what I thought was the last of my Fuji Pro 160c, but mostly relaxed in and around Carmel by the sea where our splurge hotel was. That said, Carmel is not cheap -- and we ended at a very nice, extremely photogenic, motel. We ended our trip with a really wonderful sunset on the beach, and a nicer red-sauce Italian restaurant. We passed out pretty hard after dinner, me especially after toting around the Pentax 6x7 plus lenses, plus the Minolta XD 11, and lenses. And more film than any sane, reasonable person should shoot.

The drive back the next day on Memorial Day was a slog. Everyone was coming back to LA and we just absolutely could not beat traffic. Given, we did go out of our way to go see one area I’d seen from the car on the way up the coast, slowing us down and pushing us deeper into traffic. Unfortunately. We finally made it home at around 9pm.

The core takeaway here is that I had a really nice weekend away with my girlfriend. I think for once, the photos, or the “serious photos” were secondary, an afterthought if you will. While I’m definitely not unhappy with any of the photos I’m displaying here, I don’t feel like I necessarily hit a whole lot of highs. Frequently, I’m actually more pleased with the more casual shots I took with the Minolta XD-11, that I didn’t try and labor over or pretend to labor over. Food for thought.

Thanks for taking a read! If you’ve enjoyed this content, pick up some merch in the shop. It helps keep the lights on the website!